by Mindy Kiker
“But I don’t want to forgive him!” In coaching my children about forgiveness, the resistance I meet is familiar. Even I resist letting my offender off the hook with those three magic words, “I forgive you.” The reality is, unforgiveness feels powerful while forgiveness feels weak.
Experts agree that, while seeking healing for our broken hearts, what most commonly blocks our healing is unforgiveness. Saying it another way: the way to mend a broken heart is to forgive.
Do you recall the words of Christ on the cross? “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:24)
Right up to the very end, Jesus preached forgiveness. Our “natural” internal resistance we face when choosing to forgive is evidence that the act of forgiveness is key to our freedom. Why would the forces of evil launch such a sustained attack to make us resistant to forgiving others if it were not absolutely necessary to our freedom?
We are all in need of mercy. No one has any righteousness obtained by his or her own good deeds or holiness. All humanity is dependent on the redemption purchased for us by Christ’s death on the cross.
But there’s the theory and then there’s the practice. The theory says that all have sinned, but the practice is another story. The practice sounds something like this: “He’s worse than I am. His sin hurt me. He deserves punishment. He’s not going to get my forgiveness.”
Corrie Ten Boom’s life is an amazing, powerful story of forgiveness that she shares in “The Hiding Place.” After surviving heinous atrocities at the hands of the Nazis in a concentration camp during World War II, Corrie went on to share a message of love and forgiveness, until at one church service, the unimaginable happened. One of the SS soldiers who had imprisoned her came up after her talk, gratified to hear that his sins were washed away. Corrie was horrified. She could not reach out to shake his extended hand on her own, so she asked God to help her. Through divine strength she grasped his hand. She was filled with love for this man, and that is when she “discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” (The Hiding Place)
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In ourselves we cannot extend this kind of love, this kind of forgiveness to people who have wronged us. But as Corrie realized, it is not our love that we need, but God’s. May we be those who desire to lavish love as generously as our Lord.